Friday, May 13, 2016

Review of my talk “Basic Income is a Necessity”, by Professor Yanis Varoukafis

In this talk below Professor Yanis Varoukafis argues for the Basic Income. He says that the welfare state in Europe and the New Deal in the USA has come to an end and can't be recovered. This is due to financialization', where the banking sector is now sucking all the wealth out of society. Also, for the first time in history modern technology and engineering are taken away people's jobs without creating new ones. 

Yanis Varoukafi seems to indicate the bankers have wedged themselves in between capital and industry and can't be removed, so there is a risk they will eventually extract too much wealth out and bring down the whole system. Then the parasites would have devoured their host. 

I don't think the Basic Income would discourage anyone from working because people enjoy work as long as they a not constantly harassed and overwhelmed by it. In the present day far too many people are working very long hours and driving themselves into the ground, burning themselves out. Now these people have come to hate work.

Some say the Job Guarantee is better, but Professor Varoukafis says that people should in a position where they are able to turn down work that they don't want. In the old days you wasn't forced to work for other people because you could always just farm your own bit of land, or your family's land, and earn a reasonable living that way. But now people are very desperate because they have no other means to support themselves and so will work for any wage. And without an escape route out of the system wages can only fall. 

The One Percent have wedged millions of people hard into a very tight place and now they are caning it for all its worth. And their economic professors at the leading universities are paid handsomely to spew out constant propaganda and nonsense about 'how markets work to keep the system rigged in favor for their masters. 


Extract:

Yanis Varoufakis’ amazing reframe of Basic income


Yanis Varoufakis produced half-hour video presentation and question-and-answer session. It was an address for the Future of Work Conference, in Zurich, Switzerland, 5th May 2016, at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. In this presentation Yanis Varoufakis, totally reframes the concept of how wealth is created in nations and the societies they structure. He argues for a new view of minimum basic income, not as a safety net to save people who may fall, but a foundation on which people can stand to rise up as productive citizens. His presentation includes the new technological context that for the first time in history, smart machines will eliminate far more jobs than they create. This then, according to Varoufakis, necessitates a basic income for all citizens.

What is really significant about this presentation is the creation of an alternative view of wealth creation which he brings about through reframing the concept of how most people think about wealth.

In the United States, it is a common concept that governments tax individuals, small businesses, and large corporations, and in doing so take wealth from those who create it, and then redistribute that wealth through governmental programs—programs which some people want and other people don’t want.

Yanis Varoufakis turns this dominant view of wealth creation around completely. He cites the iPhone as an example. He said that every part of an iPhone was created by some kind of government grant. Then, he says, after investment and technological innovation by the public, it is then sold, or given to private sector businesses which then make profits from it for executives and investors.


17 comments:

Ryan Harris said...

Refusing to use the terms "Innovator" or "Job Creator" isn't merely semantics. Those words convey to people that companies like Apple or Uber or SoFi create wealth and jobs. I prefer the term "Disruptivator." Most modern companies do not innovate, they capture commons, create regulatory barries, and subvert labor, pollution, and other regulatory regimes until everyone is forced to lower their standards to the a lower level. They disrupt.

Strong regulatory enforcement is the solution, when important regulations are violated, such as labor laws. When ever a person is being paid below minimum wage, there should be no excuse like "1099" to hide behind. Shadow banks like Lending Club, falsifying documents, creating bad securities....less than a decade after the financial crisis, William K Black, where are you? Call up your cronies at the SEC, FDIC, House, Senate, FBI, whereever. Head to San Francisco with giant paddy wagons and load up. White collar crime is rampant, half the so called innovators are committing felonies. They should have a permanent joint task force of regulatory agencies setup in downtown San Francisco to prosecute these folks. If they were located in New York, Houston or Chicago, they'd be thrown in jail. But for some reason... not San Fran (party politics, they are protected in their rackets).

Ignacio said...

Nah, is more important to keep simpletons with a baton and a gun to discipline the working class when is necessary than to devote resources and expertise to fight white collar criminals and corrupt politicians bending the law to allow the "wealth creators" to "create wealth".

True disciples of Ayn rand, on the land of the free...

Ryan Harris said...

Ugh, exactly. Despicable.

Bob said...

Might there be a cohort in favor of not automating away jobs?

Tom Hickey said...

Might there be a cohort in favor of not automating away jobs?

Do they have the power to stop it?

Bob said...

If they are part of the establishment, they certainly do.

Bob said...

Yanis Varoukafis's talents were wasted as Greek finance minister if this speech is an indication of his academic work.

Ignacio said...

Bob being a skilled bureaucrat and/or politicians requires a different set of skills than being a good thinker and academic.



On the point:
1) I agree with the premise that people need to be able to turn down jobs they don't want (the JG and the BIG anchor job expectations at the lower bound of the income spectrum; which then would 'trickle up'); if we don't have this the bargaining power of labour spirals into a race to the bottom and then we see what happens.
2) There is no shortage of things to do, we NEED to work, of this there is no discussion, in fact we should working more than ever to repair the damage we have produced in our own communities, societies, infrastructure and ecology due to complete subjugation to the dynamics of 'industrialism' and consumer-based society (pushed by capitalist interests).

I'm pretty sure we can find formulas to fix both.

Michael Norman said...

Varafoukis was a total ZERO as Greek finance minister. A wimp, who put his tail between his legs rather than standing up to the Troika and the money lenders.

Ignacio said...

I was very critical of him in those days, but let's get real:

He was not a dictator who could choose to act unilaterally. In fact he had to steep side because the PM told him to before relations broke.

You can't just play with the lives of millions of people, blame Tsipras or the Greek population. The man was powerless, he didn't have a mandate to do what some people wanted him to do.

I wouldn't have liked to be in his shoes those days.

Tom Hickey said...

YV made the mistake of thinking as an economist, assuming rationality and believing it was about mutual economic and financial outcomes. He did not realize until too late the its not about economics but politics, that is, dominance and power.

The technocrats taught him a bitter lesson. Since then Varoufakis has stopped talking so much about economics and is now talking about politics, in particular technocracy versus democracy.

YV bills himself as a Marxist but that is not borne out by his actions or his ideas.

Being an internationalist and democrat, he should be a Trotskyite if he wants to be a Marxist. Basically, Trotsky held that a democratic socialist country could not last in a world dominate by technocratic capitalism.

Therefore, simultaneous worker revolution was necessary worldwide in order to escape exploitation based on the parasitism of rent extraction in division of surplus Such revolutions would not necessarily have to be violent. They could be color revolutions in which workers would simply rise up and take over. Violence would need to be initiated by the regime to repress workers.

The key is that then must already be organized to act against repression based on their overwhelming numbers. Repression depends on intimidation and disorganization. If the workers of the world would unite in an organized way, repression would not work owing to the sheer numbers.

(Interestingly, US neoconservatives that began as Trotskyites adapted this strategy to technocratic capitalism when they decided that a worker revolution based on social democracy was not going to happen. Change of heart or opportunism?)

Simsalablunder said...

I have politicians near me and can see their struggle within the apparatus, which from outside is mostly seen as unity. But on key issues they're not even close to agree on how to tackle their opponents, or laws and rules all working against them. That weakens them tremendously making their official line to timorous meaninglessness.

As far as I can see a lot has to do with team building, which doesn't seem to be something they give much thought more than "since we are in the same political party we assume all think alike", which they don't.

Calgacus said...

A lot of history rewriting here.

Ignacio: You can't just play with the lives of millions of people, blame Tsipras or the Greek population.

Of course you can. Tsipras most certainly deserves blame. Greece had achieved a remarkable victory - a negotiated Grexit offer from (the demonized) Schauble.

His behavior fits Machiavelli's observation that people so often fail because of last minute reversals - that the good fail because they cannot be wholly good, the evil fail because they cannot be wholly evil.

The man was powerless, he didn't have a mandate to do what some people wanted him to do.
No, Tsipras was & unfortunately is the PM, for which the people of Greece deserve blame. Tsipras didn't have to fire Varoufakis & listen to "evil counselors." He did have the mandate of the referendum - clearly for Grexit over submission - especially the friendly, negotiated Grexit he was offered.

Tom Hickey:He did not realize until too late the its not about economics but politics, that is, dominance and power.

No, he [Varoufakis] realized this before he became finance minister, as I posted here many times. He correctly predicted the outcome of the negotiations. And he personally came on the side of the right decision, Grexit, as he said he would long before.

Mike Norman:Varafoukis was a total ZERO as Greek finance minister. A wimp, who put his tail between his legs rather than standing up to the Troika and the money lenders.

No, he stood up to them fine - and surprisingly successfully. His failures were as a thinker and a teacher - as here with his support of the moronic, sadistic and coercive BIG (Billionaire's Income Guarantee). He failed to convince Tsipras to do the obvious - and accept victory. Varoufakis is a remarkable figure - who walks the walk better than he talks the talk!

Tom Hickey said...

No, he [Varoufakis] realized this before he became finance minister, as I posted here many times. He correctly predicted the outcome of the negotiations. And he personally came on the side of the right decision, Grexit, as he said he would long before.

YV reports of being in a negotiation at which the other side just looked at him and did not respond. He says that he suddenly realized that they had absolutely no intention of negotiating.

Perhaps he was dissimulating and knew from the outset that the only option was unconditional surrender, but my impression is that he was genuinely surprised that they refused to even discuss, let alone consider, a rational resolution that would have benefited all parties.

But perhaps that, too, was part of the political theater.

Another argument for the leftist views that they should have just stuck it to the eurocrats right out of the box, instead of being humiliated in addition to be abused and finally brutalized.



Simsalablunder said...

"so often fail because of last minute reversals - that the good fail because they cannot be wholly good, the evil fail because they cannot be wholly evil."

That could be the case. Not that I know about it in Greek case but I've seen that kind of failing in reality where a group of people got their most important demands fulfilled but couldn't stop there and wanted all as they though they were doing so great. When that happened people within the group where not in agreement. Some understood what they've achieved others didn't and wanted more which pissed off the opponent making it care less of what its losses would be if it didn't accept the demands at all.

Calgacus said...

Tom:Perhaps he was dissimulating and knew from the outset that the only option was unconditional surrender, but my impression is that he was genuinely surprised that they refused to even discuss, let alone consider, a rational resolution that would have benefited all parties.

According to his words before he became Finance Minister, that I quoted many times here, in the case that negotiations failed he supported & expected Grexit, not unconditional surrender, which was Tsipras's decision. Varoufakis said then that failure was the most likely outcome of negotiations, but he didn't expect the degree of obduracy.

Simsalablunder:Very Rarely Do Men Know How To Be Entirely Good or Entirely Bad - Not exactly what you describe, which is of course very common too. My point again was that Tsipras showed he had no understanding whatsoever of what was going on. His defeat was entirely of his own making, because he could not realize that he had already won.

The problem might have been that he was too young - what he had known was mostly the Euro. So he didn't understand that the Euro was the weird new experiment, Grexit the conservative course of leaving a bizarre experiment. A failed one from the viewpoint of the great majority, its victims, Tsipras's constituency, but a success from the viewpoint his opponents.

Tom Hickey said...

Well then, I conclude that YV was most likely knowingly engaged in political theater, showing up the eurocrats for what they are. If that is the case, he is probably continuing his engagement in political theater. If this is the case, I applaud him. It's what a single Marxist without a big gun would do as step in provoking eventual revolution.